Exterior Motives: Indoor/Outdoor Design Trends

May 19, 2011 by


Diallo Design’s Segou Rocker weaves beautiful color into outdoor seating.

What’s drawing people outdoors these days? Perhaps it’s rise of the “staycation,” originally driven by the economic down turn, or the increasing number of individuals telecommuting from home, that has resulted in people investing more in creating outdoor living areas that extend the boundaries of their indoor spaces. Whether it’s a need for respite from our virtual worlds or just a desire for time outdoors, it’s no surprise that taking the indoors outside is becoming a bigger and bigger trend. People are creating outdoor spaces that function much like their indoor rooms. The outdoor living room has become a stylish place for lounging, dining, and entertaining, and even working.


Hanging out in the garden: Fatboy’s new Rockcoco, an outdoor-proof chandelier, is a contemporary take on the Louis XV style.

According to the 2011 American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Residential Trends Survey, today’s homeowners want function, efficiency and…fire pits in their outdoor space.

Seating, heating and cooking all in one: AK47’s Rondo Fire Pit doubles as seating and also accommodates an optional barbecue grill.

Apparently people just desire some of the same basic living features they have indoors: light, fire, food, and a place to sit and enjoy it all. “Despite the economic climate, homeowners continue to reconnect with their outdoor space,” says ASLA Executive Vice President and CEO Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA.


New Twists on Tradition: The Pasha Chair by Italian company, Pedrali, blends tradition, innovation, and classical style in modern polycarbonate.

What’s Trending Outside
If what I witnessed at last weekend’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair is any indication, some of this year’s trends are:
• Wovens, either from natural or synthetic materials.
• Pieces that multitask by performing more than one function.
• Modular pieces that can be placed in numerous arrangements offering flexibility for small spaces as well as choice for those of us who like to change our minds!


Brooklyn designer Susan Woods’s Aswoon line of woven furniture made its debut at ICFF.


B&B Italia’s “Reel” made of woven polyethylene threads or natural fiber and strung like a ball.

Weaving Our Way Out
Woven furniture, especially colorful pieces, many constructed of sustainable materials, offer accent bursts of color for neutral palettes and can also contribute to creating an eclectic mix of the traditional and the contemporary.

Driade’s Pavo Real Poltrona Chair, designed by Patricia Urquiola adds some punch to any setting.

Double Agent Designs
Many of us are taking the multi-tasking from our offices into our gardens. Multipurpose furniture like chairs that do double duty as lighting are becoming popular. Black & Blum’s Hot Pot, a combination herb pot and grill which we featured in an earlier post, is a good example of one piece that replaces two. The blended interest in gardening and lounging is expressed in furniture incorporating planters, giving “plant yourself down” new meaning!


Illuminating evenings outdoors with Domitalia’s Phantom2 collection. They can be ordered with battery packs, eliminating the need for cords.


The Hammy, a combo hammock, planter, and bench from Plywood Office, was unveiled at the Model Citizens show at the Chelsea Art Museum last week.


Snowpeak’s new Itauba hardwood and stainless steel Garden Series brings traditional Japanese style cooking to the modern patio.

Go Configure!
Modular pieces offer the possibility of many different seating configurations using a few select pieces whose arrangement can be changed depending on use. Consider investing in high quality, well designed modular furniture that will enable you to use it many different ways–fewer pieces, more options.


Kannoa’s Tangier modular collection works like building blocks–you arrange them as needed: build a curvaceous seating area or even a bed.

Throwing Some Curves
Some new seating and containers borrow from nature incorporating into their designs the organic, sensual curves of ocean waves and rolling hills.


Laurie Beckerman’s curvy Corian rocker allows for an outdoor tête-a-tête.


Fluid lines of Collaboration’s PL series of lightweight fiberglass or concrete planters.

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